Setting an example: Good sportsmanship begins with parents

For many parents with children in sports, it can be hard to stay on the sidelines. Across the country, children, coaches and parents continue to look for a balance between competition and sportsmanship.

For parents and coaches, keeping the lines of communication open and having realistic expectations may be the way to keep the game positive, but it can sometimes be a struggle.

Many coaches believe the pressure some parents put on young athletes is a direct result of society's trend to push children at a younger age. Many children today are involved in organized sports as young as age 3. A lot of parents see it is a way to socialize and learn, but others hope it is the start of a successful athletic career.

Guilderland youth soccer coach Tara Camardo said she fears that parents and children feel that if they are not actively involved at a young age, they may never be able to catch up.

Sports are supposed to be a great way for children to find a path for themselves, to be part of something, part of a team. I worry that some kids may be left behind because they were not on a team from an earliest age possible. It is important for coaches and organizations to make sure they give every child an opportunity, no matter what, said Camardo.

Camardo said it is important for parents to have realistic expectations of their child's abilities. She said she stresses to her youth soccer team that the whole idea behind a team is that each person is important and their contribution is what makes the team a success as a whole. She said that while she feels competition is healthy, it is important to put it into perspective.

Camardo said she makes it a point to have the children learn that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but either way you do it together as a team.

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